SD mayor doesn’t know what his Chargers plan is, declares full speed ahead regardless

San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer has called for spending $2.1 million on an environmental impact study of his dead-in-the-water Chargers stadium plan, which, whatever, mayors spend that kind of money on stupid stuff all the time. The weird thing, though, is in the EIS fine print:

California law requires people who are building things to study not only the projects they plan to build but also to reasonably foreseeable expansions or additions. If they don’t do this, and they later announce plans for condos or development on the side of the stadium, they will very vulnerable to a lawsuit alleging they piecemealed the environmental study to make sure it was easy to approve.

The mayor’s office doesn’t disagree. It has simply dropped the idea that real estate development around the new stadium will help pay for the new stadium.

Mayor Kevin Faulconer’s spokesman, Craig Gustafson, told me in an email that the mayor’s task force (otherwise known as the Citizens’ Stadium Advisory Group, or CSAG) did recommend ancillary development but it was just that: a recommendation.

“The City/County plan does not rely on ancillary development for a stadium to be financed,” Gustafson wrote. “The plan the City/County team is developing is based on negotiations and discussions with the Chargers and the NFL.”

Um, what? Here’s the CSAG funding plan:

Screen Shot 2015-07-14 at 9.00.30 AMOkay, maybe they intend to sell 75 acres of the Qualcomm Stadium site to a developer for $225 million just so he can stroke and hum to it, but I’m guessing there would be an expectation of actually building something there. Which means that Faulconer just blew a $225 million hole in his own plan, with nothing identified to replace it beyond “we’re negotiating.”

If you want to be truly cynical, it’s possible that Faulconer is trying to figure out a way to rush through an EIS by making it stadium-only — thus pleasing the Chargers owners’ desire for a quick deal — while maybe figuring out a way to sell the land to the Chargers or somebody on a “we’ll figure out how to let you build on it later” basis. Not that this seems likely to work — Chargers stadium czar Mark Fabiani already called the EIS a “misbegotten scheme” — but at least it makes Faulconer look like he’s doing something, I guess? Not anything that makes sense, mind you, but people do tend to like action even when it’s dumb.

Rose Bowl nixes hosting NFL team, L.A. temporary stadium options down to Coliseum or playing in street

The Pasadena-controlled board that owns the Rose Bowl voted this week not to bid to provide a temporary home to an NFL team in Los Angeles, saying they would rather host an annual music festival instead. (The music festival wouldn’t be during the NFL season, but its environmental impact statement requires that the Rose Bowl not host pro football if the festival takes place.)

This still leaves the NFL with a bunch of options, but as the Los Angeles Times’ Sam Farmer and Nathan Fenno report, they’re all problematic. Dodger Stadium and Angel Stadium are baseball stadiums, and not only does the NFL hate playing in baseball stadiums, but baseball teams hate sharing digs with football, which messes up their schedule and tears up the grass. The Los Angeles Galaxy‘s StubHub Center in Carson only holds 27,000 — though NFL stadium consultant Marc Ganis tried to put a happy face on this to the L.A. Times, saying, “There’s something interesting about playing in a smaller facility, to start with creating a scarcity of tickets and increase the level of interest early on,” yeah, right — and is run by AEG, which already has no love for the NFL after having its own downtown L.A. stadium plan shot down.

That leaves the L.A. Coliseum, which would be fine but for two things: First off, USC’s lease on the Coliseum only allows it to host one NFL team, which would be a problem if, say, both the Raiders and Chargers needed temporary homes while waiting for a new stadium to be completed. Second, it’s really hard to get a bidding war going with only one serious bidder, so any team wanting to bunk at the Coliseum temporarily likely just saw its prospective rent go up.

This probably isn’t enough to be more than a speed bump en route to a new L.A. NFL stadium (and team), but given that the finances of such a project already look shaky enough, you never know which is going to be the speed bump that breaks the camel’s back. (Yeah, I know the metaphor doesn’t really make sense, work with me here.) The fight to be the future home of the Raiders, Chargers, and Rams still seems like a battle that no one can possibly win — it’s one reason I don’t expect any resolution soon, but I guess we’ll get some hints, maybe, following the August owners’ meetings.

Oakland developer provides city with Raiders funding plan, but you aren’t allowed to see it yet

The Raiders-A’s land war in Oakland is really heating up now, with developer Floyd Kephart providing city officials with a financing plan for a new Raiders stadium (which he can’t tell you about, and the city won’t release yet). Since A’s owner Lew Wolff still insists that he wants the Raiders to vamoose so he can build a stadium and surrounding development on the Coliseum site (and MLB commissioner Rob Manfred backs him up, because that’s what he’s there to do), looks like there’s gonna be a gum fight.

Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf, meanwhile, only released an email statement that she is “analyzing the viability of the submission from Mr. Kephart,” and taking a “multipronged approach so we have as many options available as possible for stadium development without the use of City of Oakland general fund dollars.” Given that past Raiders plans have all involved the use of a heck of a lot of City of Oakland money, this doesn’t seem promising for Kephart’s plan, but we’ll know more when we know more.

Meanwhile, down in Carson, where a combined Raiders/San Diego Chargers stadium remains on the table — and which is currently embroiled in a crazy internecine government battle involving sexual assault charges against the current mayor and the city clerk calling a former mayor a “witch,” all of which is very entertaining but not really all that relevant to the stadium issues at hand — there was a public town hall meeting last night with Chargers and Raiders officials, and the Raiders officials failed to show up. Anybody who has a clue what Raiders owner Mark Davis is thinking in all this, please raise your hand, okay?

Talks over Chargers stadium now just involve both sides insulting each other

If San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer thought that proposing a Chargers stadium plan that nobody was really happy with and then calling for a public vote in order to avoid a more difficult public vote would at least be a productive starting point for negotiations — hey, it worked in Milwaukee, sort of — it’s not really working out that way at all. We already covered the Chargers owners’ statement on Tuesday that this voting thing doesn’t really work for them; since then, things have only descended further into everybody just yelling at each other:

  • Faulconer sniped on Twitter that “we can get this done if we have a willing partner,” while one of his political consultants snarked, “For the first time in seven months of incredibly hard work from the City, County, and the CSAG, the Chargers did something honest – walk away from the table.”
  • Faulconer said he’d next go straight to the NFL to convince the league that a public vote could be held without worries about holdups from environmental lawsuits, with city councilmember Scott Sherman adding approvingly, “They wouldn’t have a choice but to come back to the table.”
  • Chargers stadium czar Mark Fabiani told a KPBS interviewer that “we’re out of time for 2015″ and the only way the Chargers stay put in San Diego is if the NFL rejects their move to L.A. (Asked why the team had agreed to negotiate at all if it was too late, Fabiani replied, “We were hoping the city would come up with something we hadn’t thought of.”)
  • Fabiani told a 10News interviewer via email that negotiating with the city had been “a waste of five months,” that the L.A. market is “far more lucrative,” and that “we haven’t seen any evidence so far in our dealings with Mayor Faulconer that he is capable of managing such a complex project,” calling his approach “remarkably unsophisticated.”

Yep, that’s a lot of yelling. What it all seems to add up to is two sides each trying to make their pitch to the NFL: Fabiani is trying to tell the Chargers’ fellow owners, “Hey, we tried, the mayor’s a buffoon, we have no choice but to go to L.A.,” while Faulconer is sending the message, “We have a good offer on the table, kick these nuts in the butt and tell them to negotiate.” This is looking more and more like the endgame will be an NFL meeting in which the Chargers, St. Louis Rams, and Oakland Raiders owners all try to be the first to win approval to go to L.A.; I’m still skeptical that any of them should really want to, but NFL owners are as susceptible as the next person to wanting things that they’re told they can’t have. Maybe more so.

Chargers to San Diego: No votes, please, just hand over stadium cash

If San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer was really proposing a public vote on a Chargers stadium deal because he thought it would be a way to make everyone happy, well, that sure didn’t work. The Chargers owners issued a statement yesterday saying they have no interest in any of this whole “people voting” nonsense:

he Chargers have concluded that it is not possible to place a ballot measure before voters in December 2015 in a legally defensible manner given the requirements of the State’s election law and the California Environmental Quality Act. The various options that we have explored with the City’s experts all lead to the same result: Significant time-consuming litigation founded on multiple legal challenges, followed by a high risk of eventual defeat in the courts. The Chargers are committed to maintaining an open line of communication with the City’s negotiators as we move through the summer and leading up to the special August meeting of National Football League owners. That meeting may provide important information about what is likely to occur during the remainder of 2015.”

In English, that translates as: Give us a plan that nobody can sue over, and give it to us by August, capisce? Also, possibly, We can’t sit around waiting for you when we have to beat Stan Kroenke to the treasure! Clearly none of us covering the NFL L.A. stadium move threat mess is going to get much of a summer vacation this year.

USA Today report on NFL LA move may violate own unnamed source rule, says source close to journalism

Stop the presses! USA Today reported on Friday that it’s heard the NFL is exploring where a team could play temporarily in Los Angeles, maybe, while a new stadium was possibly being built, if that happens, possibly, says some guy:

The league plans to soon begin talks with existing stadiums in the Los Angeles area in an effort to provide temporary housing for any team or teams that might relocate there, if any, a person familiar with the situation told USA TODAY Sports. The person asked not to be identified because of the sensitivity of the situation.

This is totally expected, since the league needs to do due diligence if it’s going to consider approving a move of either the St. Louis Rams, San Diego Chargers, and/or Oakland Raiders. And, for that matter, it’s also totally expected that the NFL might want to leak this to the papers for their own purposes, as a way of turning up the heat on St. Louis, San Diego, and Oakland to get new stadium plans in gear already, instead of mucking around with whether it would be legal or whether it makes any sense. You might even wonder if USA Today is being used by the league here for PR purposes, with the whole “asked not to be identified” thing serving as cover so the NFL doesn’t have to answer any uncomfortable questions.

In fact, let’s see what USA Today’s editorial ethics policy has to say about basing stories on the testimony of unnamed sources:

The use of unnamed sources erodes our credibility and should be avoided.

Okay, that’s not a good start. But what about when, you know, you really really don’t want to avoid it?

The identity of an unnamed source must be shared with and approved by a managing editor prior to publication. The managing editor must be confident that the information presented to the reader is accurate, not just that someone said it. This usually will require confirmation from a second source or from documents…

Anonymous sources must be cited only as a last resort. This applies not just to direct quotes but to the use of anonymous sources generally. Before accepting their use for publication, an editor must be confident that there is no better way to present the information and that the information is important enough to justify the broader cost in reader trust. This is not to be taken lightly…

Unnamed sources should be described as precisely as possible. Additionally, reporters and editors should explain why the source could not be identified and if possible, add any information that establishes the credibility of a source on the subject matter in question.

Obviously, we as readers have no way of knowing whether USA Today’s managing editor signed off on this, whether a “second source or documents” was provided, and whether the information was “important enough to justify the broader cost in reader trust.” Still, at best, this seems like bending the “Don’t use unnamed sources unless absolutely necessary” rule for the sake of a juicy headline, even if it’s not a story that necessarily tells anyone much of anything. Which goes on all the time, of course, but that doesn’t make it any better a way of running a journalistic railroad.


San Diego mayor doesn’t know what Chargers stadium plan will be, calls for vote on it anyway

San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer has set December 15 as the date for a public vote on a Chargers stadium deal — not that he and the Chargers owners have agreed on one, but once they do, there’s going to be a public vote on December 15, by gum!

This may sound a little weird — not only because nobody knows yet what if anything there will be to vote on, but because what elected official calls for a referendum when it’s not required? — but it’s not so much when you consider all the factors. First off, this would be “a majority vote of the people,” in Faulconer’s words — i.e., not the vote requiring a two-thirds majority that the Chargers are afraid of, and which would be needed to pass a tax increase for stadium funding. Holding a vote this year would head off a later referendum challenge, thanks to some wrinkle of California election law that I’m not even going to pretend to understand. And finally, by announcing it now, the mayor both sends a message to the NFL that he’s serious (whatever that means) about building a stadium for the Chargers, and sends a message to voters that he’s not going to move ahead with anything that he can’t get 50.1% of them to agree on.

Chargers owners the Spanos family, meanwhile, seem less than excited about all this: They’ve expressed skepticism that a vote can be pulled off this year, that a stadium deal based on the mayor’s task force’s plans, and really on just about everything about a new stadium in San Diego — all of which is only to be expected, as expressing enthusiasm about an offer is no way to get the party across the table to up their ante. So this could all be part of negotiating tactics, or it could be Faulconer gearing up to say, “Hey, I tried.” Or both! It could always be both.

Extorting four cities for new NFL stadiums at once is hard, guys!

The Los Angeles Daily News’s Vincent Bonsignore has a good article up today detailing the careful balancing act the NFL needs to play in deciding which, if any, teams end up moving to Los Angeles:

Short of San Diego or Oakland stepping forward with satisfactory stadium plans for the Chargers and Raiders, which seems to be a long shot at this point, or [Rams owner Stan] Kroenke surprising everyone by accepting the stadium proposal Missouri leaders are hammering away at, the NFL is headed toward a potentially ugly fight in which owners will be asked to take sides with or against one other.

Worse, if it ultimately comes down to a vote, the team or teams losing out will report back to their local markets with tails decidedly between their legs and left vulnerable while trying to revive new stadium talks.

And that, in a nutshell, is why you’re hearing a lot of rumor and innuendo right now, and no real action, especially on the part of the NFL: Any step forward by one team’s plans would mean a step backward for someone else’s — and the last thing the NFL or its owners wants is for anyone to lose leverage in negotiating a stadium deal. So the endgame here is going to have to be carefully calibrated to ensure that everyone gets a deal they can live with before anything gets finalized. (Bonsignore’s solution — let the St. Louis Rams and San Diego Chargers move to a shared stadium in Inglewood, and take $400 million from their relocation fees and stadium revenues and give it to the Raiders for a new stadium in Oakland — almost certainly won’t work, since it’s unlikely there’s an extra $400 million in profit just sitting around in any Inglewood finance plan, but hey, an article can’t have everything.)

Instead, let’s watch Hollywood Park racetrack get blowed up to make way for either Kroenke’s Inglewood stadium if it ends up getting built, or for something else if it doesn’t. Momentum!

Carson officials on Chargers/Raiders stadium talks: Sorry, we never wrote anything down

Wondering how exactly the negotiations between the city of Carson and the owners of the San Diego Chargers and Oakland Raiders went before those teams’ surprise announcement of stadium plans in February on the heels of St. Louis Rams owner Stan Kroenke declaring his interest in a stadium in nearby Inglewood? So was the Voice of San Diego, so it asked Carson city officials, and this is what it was told:

What did those negotiations consist of? Not a single email, text message, memo or anything on paper at all between the teams or the NFL and any elected official in Carson, according to city officials…

Carson is not saying that written communications between its elected officials and the Chargers, Raiders and league should be shielded from public view because they are part of real estate negotiations or other legitimate exemptions from the state’s records laws. No, they’re saying that there are literally zero electronic or paper communications between Carson’s elected officials and the NFL.

The VoSD is now suing to force the release of documents that it’s sure must exist. The entertainment value here is potentially awesome, so stay tuned.

SD mayor and Chargers to start talks over stadium plan, Union-Tribune calls this “victory”

Now that his stadium task force has issued a plan — a plan that nobody really likes, mind you, but a plan nonetheless — San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer plans to talk to Chargers execs about it. Or, as the San Diego Union-Tribune’s Tom Krasovic puts it:

The start of negotiations in San Diego is a victory for both sides.

Start with Faulconer. San Diego mayors before him never got this far on plans for a new football stadium.

As for both the NFL and the Chargers, negotiations with San Diego could strengthen their hand in Carson and opposite Rams owner Stan Kroenke should he decide to go rogue, a la former Raiders owner Al Davis, and move his team to Inglewood without NFL approval.

Soooooo, it’s a victory for the city when your mayor is proposing one of the largest public NFL stadium subsidies in history with no certainty that it’ll even be accepted, and it’s a victory for the Chargers because they can use it to leverage a better deal in Carson, or something? This must be one of those other kinds of victory.

In related news, Mick Jagger thinks the Chargers should stay in San Diego, marking a victory for the rock legend, who has never before managed to get involved in football stadium negotiations.